What’s a caving enthusiast to do? So many lovely cave temples in Ipoh, but all the interesting looking nooks and tunnels are blocked off to visitors! For those wanting to do some cave exploration, whatever your adventure level, you should head to Tempurung Cave.
Admission Prices at Gua Tempurung
Getting Here & Parking
Gua Tempurung is located far south of Ipoh, about a 45-minute drive from the centre of town. If you have a car to drive here, the parking lot at Gua Tempurung is quite big and parking is free.
There is no bus to Tempurung Cave. Other blogs mention bus 66 from Ipoh to Gua Tempurung, but as of the end of 2020, this route did not seem to exist any more when we were doing our trip planning. Even when it was in service, it was horribly inconvenient: you had to get to Medan Kidd bus station, which is far from any decent hotels, and the drop off point was about 5 kilometres from Tempurung Cave itself.
You should not rely on ride-hailing services like Grab to get to Gua Tempurung either. Tempurung Cave is in the middle of nowhere and no smart Grab driver would be willing to drive all that way for one fare. The only option for those without a car is to hire a driver. This is obviously not the most economical choice for the thrifty traveller, but it is incredibly stress-free: door-to-door service, the ability to leave heavy backpacks in the car, and bottled water provided in a comfortable air-conditioned ride.
Drivers can be hired for half a day. This is enough to get to Tempurung Cave, but if you hire one for the whole day, you can visit other inconveniently located attractions like Kellie’s Castle and Mirror Lake. There are many reputable drivers in Ipoh to choose from who have a respectable command of English. TripAdvisor is a good resource for this, and where we found recommendations for the driver we chose.
We hired a man named Paul Leong, a longtime Ipoh denizen making an honest living in his retired years as a tour guide and driver. He was jovial and knowledgable about the attractions we had planned to see that day. His fee was RM350 for eight hours, from pickup at our hotel at 9 am to drop off shortly after 5 pm. His phone number can be found in the Facebook post above. This number is contactable on WhatsApp and is still correct as of 2020. If you follow the link to his Facebook page by clicking the above image, you can find his email to get in touch, message him on Facebook, or make a booking directly on his page.
When To Visit Gua Tempurung
The usual strategy of coming here on a weekday to beat the crowds might backfire. I’ve read that if Gua Tempurung is too quiet – as in you’re literally the only tourist there – then Tour 2 will be unavailable and you’ll have to do Tour 1 instead. The minimum number of guests that Gua Tempurung needs to have is only 5 persons to open up Tour 2, so this will rarely be an issue. We came on a Monday at 10 am – arguably the quietest period of the week – and there were no problems. Even in the middle of a pandemic, Gua Tempurung had more than enough visitors to meet the 5 person quota. Visiting in the afternoon may have fewer crowds since Tours 3 and 4 do not run after 12 pm. By 2 pm, all of the people in these groups will be cleared out of the dry portions of the cave, and you’ll just have to deal with Tour 1 and 2 visitors.
Amenities at Gua Tempurung
There is a convenience store on-site that sells food and drinks, useful for fuelling up before your cave adventure or indulging in some much-needed snacks afterwards. You can also pick up a souvenir to remember your visit in case the memories aren’t enough. Near the parking lot, there were a couple of hawker tents set up. On this day there was a lady selling deep-fried food and a vendor selling drinks and fruit.
There is a toilet across from the ticket booth – two separate rooms with one toilet and a sink for men and women. There was no hook or shelf in the room, so I had to put my rucksack on the dirty floor. The toilet was sitting style, but there was no paper provided. At the sink, there was no soap and nothing to dry my hands with. Most annoying was that there were no lights in the room. When I closed the door, it was too dark to see anything so I had to turn on my phone flashlight and rest it on my backpack for a light source. Clearly, not the most comfortable facilities but there are no toilets in the cave so this is the only opportunity to go.
Gua Tempurung Dry Tour Overview
Tour 2 is completely self-guided and requires no special gear. Without a ranger guide, you are free to go at your own pace and spend as much time marvelling at the cave system as you want. This tour takes you to all five platforms, plus the obligatory entrance platform. Tour 2’s stated duration of 1 hour and 45 minutes round trip is surprisingly accurate. This is almost exactly how much time we took, even with lots of dawdling and long photo breaks. This duration time is not a rule but only an average. You could take twice that amount of time in the cave and no one will kick you out.
The inside of Tempurung Cave is so grand that you won’t ever feel claustrophobic… at least not on the dry tours. The massive caverns have dripping stalactites that loom high overhead, yet are so large that some are beginning to join with stalagmites they have created. The long, unbroken passageway climbs up and disappears deep into the mountain, out of sight. While on the tour, remember to look back behind you periodically so you can get a view of how high you’ve climbed so far.
There is no chance of getting dirty or wet on Tour 2. The walkways are all man-made and raised high enough from the water and muck. Still, you should wear appropriate walking shoes for this tour. It is an hour and 45-minute walk with a lot of stairs along the way, which would not be pleasant if you wore flip-flops to Gua Tempurung.
Speaking of stairs, Tour 2 at Gua Tempurung could probably be classified as mild to moderate exercise, depending on your fitness level. There are 640 steps to get up to where this tour ends, and the same 640 steps down to get out of the cave. This may sound gruelling, as it’s more than twice the steps of the brutal climb at KL’s Batu Caves, but the journey is broken up with flat stretches and viewing platforms. There will be lots of times when you’ll be resting. Not because you’re tired, but because of the amazing view in front of you.
What To See At Each Platform
Entrance Platform – AIYAHHH…!
After passing through the cave mouth and a short entry tunnel, the entrance platform is first. Built at ground level, it is just above the river that flows out of the cave. I’m not sure why it’s hilariously named “AIYAHHH…!” Perhaps there was an incident before the guard rails were put up when a tourist slipped and fell into the river.
Platform 1 – Mr. Bat
The view from the Mr. Bat platform is back toward the cave mouth where you just came from. The limestone up top has been naturally tinged a beautiful seafoam green. The sun streams in through the cracks in the cave, and its daytime blue light brings oceanic colours into the cave. A very photogenic scene.
Despite its name, I didn’t see or hear any bats. They do take up residence at Tempurung Cave, and during the mating season between March and May maybe you’ll be able to spot one.
Platform 2 – Echo Echo
Echo-Echo has a stunning view of the Golden Flowstone Cavern. The stairs worm their way into a teepee-shaped section of limestone, bending and snaking upward before disappearing into the bowels of the cave. From here, you can get a sneak peek at the next platform on the tour: a small flat section that reappears after the path enters through the tunnel.
Platform 3 – Golden Flowstone
Before you get to this platform, keep your eye out for the decades-old etchings in the rock. These are leftover from when communist rebels used Gua Tempurung as a hideout back in the 1950s during the Malayan Emergency. These are easy to miss since some just look like scratches in the rock, but the most obvious graffiti are these mysterious cars. This historic cave art is located at the top of the stairs that enter the teepee-shaped rock.
The actual Golden Flowstone platform is within a cosier part of the cave where the ceilings are much lower. When the underground river is flowing, it rushes over the golden-toned rock, hence its name.
Platform 4 – Wind Tunnel
Platform 4 begins at – surprise! – a tunnel that’s windy! Even being this deep in the cave, you can still feel a refreshing cool breeze blowing through. The wind tunnel goes for quite a ways until you emerge into what looks like the old bones of a whale’s belly.
Platform 5 – Top of the World
The “Top of the World” is where Tour 2 ends. The rock ceiling is just a few feet above your head and far down below in the darkness is the cave floor. For the final platform, there’s not much to see here. It is darker here than on the other platforms and chances are you won’t be able to get a decent photo of anything.
If you’re lucky enough to catch them, the most interesting things at this stop are the geared up adventurers on Tours 3 or 4 descending into the cave’s creepy depths. Their bobbing headlamps give off an eerie glow, getting smaller and smaller before being swallowed up by the blackness of the cave. Once you’re done at this platform, there’s nothing else but to walk back the way you came to the cave entrance.
If you can find a reliable ride there and back, you should make time to go to Tempurung Cave for whatever kind of tour you fancy. This was an amazing, extensive cave where I felt like I got more than my money’s worth considering how long I spent there. I also loved how the dry tours were self-guided so that I didn’t feel rushed by a guide telling me it’s time to move on to the next stop. I’m already planning for a wet tour the next time I’m in Ipoh!
Gua Tempurung Cave
Address: Jalan Gua Tempurung, 31600 Gopeng, Perak
Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm (last admission at 4pm for Tours 1 & 2, 12pm for Tour 3, and 11am for Tour 4)
Washroom On Site: Yes